Stereotypes can be defined as an over generalized belief about a group of people. Psychologists have agreement on stereotypes features. However, there exist differences in how various psychologists describe how the acts stereotyping take place and why they do. There are three essential components in all explanations about stereotypes. The first component is where a group of people are given an identity through a specific characteristic for example nationality, religious belief, age, hair color amongst others. This type of identification separates a set of people from a chosen characteristic. Additional characteristics are then attributed to groups of people in the second component of stereotypes for example, red heads are considered to have short tempered and English people considered having traditional love. Finally, while trying to identify someone using certain characteristics we come to new discoveries that they are from a certain culture. A stereotype is then attributed to them (Hinton, 2000). Types of stereotypes
Gender stereotypes simply refer to the generalizations on characteristics of gender, their differences, and roles of different genders as individuals or as groups. Although stereotypes can either be positive or negative, they can rarely be accredited as credible sources of information about others. Gender stereotyping occurs when people automatically assume things about other without having evidence on the same. Traditionally, stereotypes on women depict their role marriage and rearing of children. Women are also supposed to put their families’ first before themselves, loving them, caring for them, nurturing them and at the same time they are supposed to look and feel beautiful. The stereotypical role for males is to act as the source of bread, be assertive, courageous as well independent. The gender stereotypes can be harmful as they can stifle one’s expression, creativity and professional growth (Gerritsen, 2012). The minority stereotyping occurs in races or ethnic groups that have their members disadvantaged in one way or another. The characteristic of this stereotype is in the social factors rather than in numbers as may be sometimes confused. These kinds of people are normally attributed as having a sense of belonging together while the society at large isolates them. They also have a disadvantage when compared to the general population. Stereotyping of minorities occurs despite the efforts that might have been made by those individuals in trying to be similar to the majority. Minorities are usually disadvantaged when it comes to issues of wealth and power. In order to preserve their culture, minority groups usually prefer endogamy or marrying within themselves. Intermarriage between different groups, minorities and majorities, is not always encouraged (Marger, 2011). The judgment of some groups or classes of people applied to all individuals without testing the judgments against reality is referred to as prejudice. It is therefore the generalized belief that does not favor all individuals alike. Ethnic prejudices are normally characterized by several features. They can be categorical in nature in that they have generalized thoughts where an individual is put through judgment on the basis of their tribe or group. The second characteristic is that they are inflexible and cannot be reversible when exposed to new knowledge. They also normally have negative comments and that the specific traits given to a certain group may be considered as inferior and socially undesirable. At times the prejudices may be considered to be positive while at times they may be considered to be negative. The prejudices are usually considered as having a lot of errors and usually result in negative images and end up in causing stereotype images. People will rarely give claims of disliking other people merely because they belong to a certain group but instead the view will be cushioned in rational terms (Marger, 2011). Rational stereotypes: Are stereotypes good or bad
It is a common pattern of thought to generalize about a group or objects. It is that very technique of people’s mentality that enables people to have social especially in modern societies that are complex in nature. In the modern societies, we cannot clearly know the personal characteristics of everybody we interact with. Therefore, we try to identify some marks like gender, age or even someone’s occupation and make general judgments. These are the basis upon which people are put in different memberships in different social institutions (Marger, 2011). At times, predictions on how people will react in different situations may become true. As a result, interactions with people who we understand nothing about apart from their group membership are made possible. Sometimes, our predictions become incorrect and people do not behave in the manner that we expect. However, ethnic, gender and minority stereotypes that may be harmful differ in a great way from common generalizations in that they are oversimplified beliefs. They are generally acquired through secondhand means and are prone to change from time to time (Marger, 2011).
Hinton, P., R., (2000). Social Cognition and Culture. Psychology. Edition illustrated Publisher Psychology Press.
Marger, M. (2011). Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives. Cengage Learning. Gerritsen. (2012)Award-winning women through the ages: Dismantling Gender Stereotypes. Proquest.